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Amiga History
Okay, there are many, many accounts of the history of the Amiga and Commodore, both online and in book form. I'm not going to get into all the specific details, but just give an overview of the troubled but interesting past of this remarkable machine.
 
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How It All Began
Waaaay back in the early '80s, the Commodore 64 was king. Everybody had one, everybody wanted one. Of course most people didn't use it for much else than playing games loaded from casette tape, but at the time this was great for the kids (young and old) as the tapes were easily swapped and copied, and because the 64 was so common, everyone had a bunch of people to share with. Around this time, a group of investors and engineers called Hi-Toro were developing a games system which would blow the socks off every other system in the market. But when the video games market crashed in the early '80s, they shifted their focus to producing an all-round computer. This machine would still blow anything else on the marked out of the water, as from the ground up it was designed with true multitasking, a 4096-colour palette, 4-channel sound, and a graphical user interface and desktop environment the likes of which had never been seen before. However they needed cash to push this new computer which they had named "Lorraine". Atari initially struck a deal with Hi-Tori, giving them the money they badly needed to develop the Lorraine, in return allowing Atari to use the new custom chips developed for it in other devices. Atari had financial trouble of their own however, and with the Lorraine almost ready for sale, it looked on the brink of collapse. Just in the nick of time, Commodore stepped in with a wad of cash, paid off Hi-Toro's debts, and bought them entirely from Atari. At last they had the money to release their machine, so they renamed themselves Amiga (because it's Spanish for "female friend", and came before Atari in the phone book) and launched the Amiga 1000 in 1985.
 
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The Golden Years
The Amiga 1000 was certainly very impressive, doing things that a contemporary IBM PC or Apple would struggle to do, even at double the price. But the computing world wasn't sure what to make of it, and neither were Commodore. It didn't have the MS-DOS environment that many businesses were used to and looked for, and it was very expensive for playing games on. This uncertainty, coupled with production issues causing a failure to meet demand, meant the Amiga 1000 sold in far fewer numbers than it should have. At this time, the MS-DOS based IBM PC was beginning to dominate the business world, and the (black & white) Apple Macintosh had most of the publishing industry sewn up. Of course the Amiga could have easily done the job of both these machines, and for less money, but due to the lack of direction and support it found itself head-to-head with Atari's ST. The ST was inferior to the Amiga, but also cheaper, and this gave it an edge over the Amiga in the home computer market.
 
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The People's Amiga
To compete with the Atari ST, Amiga brought out a new Amiga, based on the Amiga 1000's architecture, but this time housed in an all-in-one case, including keyboard and floppy drive, just like the ST. It was still the more expensive of the two, but the price drop from the 1000 meant it began to make inroads into the home market, and more people were able to compare the two machines side-by-side which showed off the Amiga's superiority. This new Amiga was called the Amiga 500, and was considered by many to be the spiritual successor to the Commodore 64. Along with the 500, Amiga also released the Amiga 2000, a full-sized desktop computer for the professional market. Both machines were very similar, sharing their architecture with the 1000, and this meant that most software would run on all Amigas, but the Amiga 2000 had plenty of room inside for expansion cards and hard drives, meaning that at last Commodore had a professional-oriented and a home-oriented machine to cover both sides of the market.
 
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